Its that time of the month again, when Helen@The Patient Gardener hosts the End of Month View meme. I love the chance to have a nose around other people’s gardens, but I love the discipline of taking a long hard critical look at my own garden – or bits of it – even more.
I currently use the post as a time to review progress in my pond bed and what I call the Magnolia bed – I am so good at imaginative names for my borders… Actually, I don’t really “do” naming of things, our camper van being one notable exception, but I do need labels that are easily understood to identify bits of garden. How else would my nearest and dearest know which bit of garden I was whittering on to them about?!
The pond bed is still full of gaps, large patches uncovered by mulch, and littered with pots. Some of these actually have plants in them, others merely serve as markers for where plants too small to put in (or as yet unbought) will go. However, it has been so ridiculously dry that I have been holding off planting up until we are promised some rain. I’m not sure this makes sense any more, they keep saying “tomorrow” and then changing their minds, and anyway, I need the pots, so I may just buckle down and get on with it this weekend.
The bed is in that annoying gap, between the last of the early bulbs and the first of the real Spring rush. Most of the colour is coming from the dying tulips, which have their own beauty, and although there are buds about to break out on the Astrantias and Knautia macedonica, and the very dark aquilegias are starting to flower, I am cross. You see, this was going to be the year that I finally conquered the gap. By now there was to have been a beautiful lacy cloud of Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ threading through aquilegias in dark purple and blue. I completely failed to grow any of the anthriscus, the blue aquilegias aren’t going to flower this year, and I talked myself out of buying yet more seed – orange aquilegias – which would actually have been rather wonderful right now. I shouldn’t complain, it was worse last year:
I’d just started the revamp, and anyway things are more advanced this year due to the strangely summery weather. The problem is that tension that you feel, looking at something that actually isn’t that bad, knowing that in your mind’s eye it is so much better. So I am trying to enjoy the lush Spring foliage…
…and the promise of things to come…
…although trying to photograph an emerging astrantia flower in a stiff breeze generates rather blurred results.
The magnolia bed is looking rather less colourful just at the moment too. The tree itself has finished flowering and is now covered in these wonderfully weird seeds:
The honesty has almost finished flowering, but the seedpods are developing well and will soon add a touch of magic to this patch:
Colour will soon come from the Sweet Rocket, which has chosen to ignore the information that it grows to a height of 45cm (1.5′) and is over double that, but at least it means that the bed is performing one of its roles rather better than I feared it would this year. When you enter the garden by the side path the magnolia bed is the first thing you see. When I originally put the pergola in, and started planning the planting, I wanted to make sure you couldn’t see everything immediately. Its hard to create a sense of mystery in such a small space, but I at least wanted to ensure that anyone sat under the pergola would be screened by the foliage planted in this border. This worked wonderfully well when it was planted with a Choisya ternata, a sadly dead acer, the also defunct Pittosporum and a rather wonderful purple Phormium tenax. Of that original planting only the Magnolia – now a tree rather than a shrub – remains. Everything else either died or outgrew the space. So I am chuffed that a year on from clearing the bed of the dead and dying and over large, it is once more screening the pergola quite effectively.
(The giant and very ugly garden thermometer was bought as a joke for TNG when we lived on Anglesey, but is now much loved by MIL who can see how cold it is from the warmth of the kitchen in the morning before heading off to work.)
There are a few things in this border giving me great pleasure right now. One of them is the creeping Phlox, which lights up the space, a truly elegant plant.
I love it, and thanks to Gail@Clay and Limestone I have now added another Phlox to my wishlist, ‘David’, a white and very fragrant form that is shade tolerant. I was going to try it in my pond border, having also failed to germinate any Cenolophium denudatum, but I think in form it might work better in this small gap by the decking, where it would act as a kind of full stop and would spread its fragrance right by a seating area:
The other source of delight is my oak leaved hydrangea. I was really worried about it back in January, but the foliage is looking magnificent.
Best of all, it looks as if it is going to flower, which will be the first time, so I think I have finally found it a home it is really happy in. You never know, I may even get autumn colour from it too!
One thing I am not sure what to do about is this rather large gap:
To put it in context, this is the view you get as you walk down the side path before you turn the corner.
When I put the shed up last May we talked about training a climber up the side of it and planting something largish in front. The purlpish growth you can see in the foreground above is the Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’, which will hide the gap by mid summer, but I know it is there, hate wasting the space, and have the perfect plant. We had agreed to just bung in some foxgloves and see what we thought given that we are planning to move in the not too distant future, but I have this wonderful purple hazel that I had to dig out of the border on the opposite side of the garden because it had got too big The hazel is currently sat happily in a very large pot. It would look great in this gap, but we want to take it with us when we move – I am now thinking about just burying the pot in the ground so that it looks planted but we can easily extract it again. What do you think? It is bound to root through the bottom – will I damage it when I lift it again? And please don’t ask me when we are going to move, I still have no idea, but hopefully we will be on our way this time next year. But we’ve thought that before and are still here…